What Is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller, Roundup. It is the most commonly used herbicide in the world today. It is a systemic herbicide, meaning that when applied to plant foliage, it is absorbed through the tissues to kill broadleaf plants, weeds and grasses. It’s so common that lab testing has revealed the presence of glyphosate in popular snacks including Cool Ranch Doritos, Ritz Crackers, Oreos, and Cheerios.

I know what you may be thinking….”I only eat certified-organic food, so I don’t need to worry about this.” Although we wish the iconic USDA Organic stamp represented full transparency, it’s not that straight forward. Unfortunately, organic certification tests and routine pesticide tests don’t screen for glyphosate, and no state currently counts glyphosate among the residual pesticides checked in cannabis safety testing. As a result, glyphosate can show up even in certified-organic products. This has prompted third-party organizations, such as The Detox Project  to address this issue head-on.


Who Is The Detox Project?

The Detox Project is a research and certification platform that encourages transparency in the food and supplement industries on the subject of toxic chemicals. Over the past several years, the organization has been on the cutting-edge of research regarding the dangers of glyphosate, the most-used herbicide in the world. You may recognize their Glyphosate Residue-Free mark on popular food brands such as Chosen Foods, Nutiva, & more. Although very few hemp CBD companies have received this certification, many consumers are becoming aware of this and seeking it out. 


IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer).

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, glyphosate is a “possible human carcinogen.”  In addition to its potential links to cancer, the study reported that “glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption.” Additionally, one study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage in residents of several communities after sprayings of glyphosate-based formulations.”


Legal Cases.

Earlier this year, a California Jury awarded a couple more than $2 Billion in a verdict against Monsanto. The jury in Alameda County ruled that the couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma because of their use of the glyphosate-based herbicide. This is the third recent court decision involving claims that the company’s Roundup weed killer caused cancer. In March 2018, a San Fransisco jury awarded a man $80 million who blamed his cancer on his extensive use of RoundUp. At least one environmental group praised the verdict.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said:

“The cloud hanging over Bayer will only grow bigger and darker, as more juries hear how Monsanto manipulated its own research, colluded with regulators and intimidated scientists to keep secret the cancer risks from glyphosate.”


Now that we know a bit about glyphosate..let’s talk about its relevance to hemp and hemp products. Hemp is what’s known as a “bioaccumulator”. This means that it absorbs toxins from the soil faster than it can excrete them, resulting in a serious pesticide problem with hemp products. Say you have a field of corn that regularly had conventional pesticides applied to it – then replaced the corn with hemp the following year. The pesticides used on the corn will remain in the soil, and will ultimately be absorbed by the hemp plants the following year. Like we mentioned above, organic-certification and routine pesticide tests don’t screen for glyphosate, so the traditional ways we get assurance that what we are consuming is clean – don’t apply here. The only way you can be sure that food & hemp products don’t contain glyphosate is to either request a specific glyphosate COA (certificate of analysis) from the company in question, OR look for the Glyphosate Residue-Free stamp by the Detox Project.

What This Means for You.

Using hemp and CBD products to improve ones quality of life only makes sense, but it starts to get squirrelly and counter-productive when these products contain toxic chemicals and pesticides. As the cannabis industry matures from its stage of infancy, it’s our responsibility as consumers to remain proactive about understanding the products we consume, and continually question the companies making these product – holding them accountable. Because of the lack of regulation there are many “bad players” in the cannabis industry, but as we collectively mature its becoming increasingly easier to “weed out” these players and put the ones doing it right on a pedestal. Stay vigilant, always question, and guard your health.